Writer/Director: J.J. Abrams
Running time: 112 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12
UK Release date: 5th August 2011
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 12th May 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is the second time I’ve seen this movie and I have to say I enjoyed it more on the second viewing. I think I can better appreciate just what the director was doing when he allows the pace of events to drop through the middle third if the picture. I will explain all at the end; for now, what follows is more or less the text of my original review from August 2011 with a few tweaks here and there… Enjoy.
A group of kids are making a film; it being the time before video tape, they have to film it on a Super 8 cine camera. The group’s leader, Charles, wants to make a zombie movie for an upcoming competition. He is helped by Joe Lamb, Cary, Martin, Preston, and latterly Alice Dainard. Joe has recently lost his mother in an accident and his dad, a deputy sheriff, is struggling to adapt. He has a thing for Alice, whose dad had worked with Joe’s mother and blames himself for the accident. But I digress… whilst filming one night by the railway tracks; they witness an accident that derails a military train. They capture on film something escaping from one of the carriages, but, of course, they don’t know about that until they can get the film developed (3 days later). By that time the town has gone crazy; disappearances of equipment and people… even all the dogs have left! The military come in to clear up the train wreck and end up evacuating the town. Can these young filmmakers get to the bottom of what’s going on? Well, just in case there is someone out there that hasn’t seen it, I’d better not say. Them spoiler police will be hanging me up to dry.
A very well made film with likable characters, some neat CGI and some very clever effects. I cannot fault the performances, the young cast all did a great job, in particular; Joel Courtney as Joe Lamb, Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard and Riley Griffiths as Charles. All three stood out (for me) and I’m sure they’ll all go far. Also worthy of a mention were; Kyle Chandler as Jackson Lamb (Joe’s dad), Ryan Lee as Cary, Gabriel Basso as Martin and Zach Mills as Preston.
As I’ve already said, I can see what J.J. Abrams was aiming at, and that is the Spielberg films of the late 70’s to the early 80’s. Films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and even the Spielberg-produced, The Goonies (1985). Unfortunately this doesn’t have the warmth or the magic of those films, but it is still a worthy effort. Going back to the middle third of the film, I referred to it at the beginning, J.J.Abrams uses this section to give the film a lot of emotional depth. This is something I hadn’t noticed on my initial viewing, but I can now see just what he was trying to do. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite come off here but even so, by the end I could see its place and it made for a really quite enjoyable film. Some great music, both the original soundtrack by Michael Giacchino and the songs of the period that were chosen. As far as the cinematography goes, I’ve read a lot of comment about “flaring”; this didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. I like that they show the film the kids were making while the end credits are rolling… It’s pretty neat. Recommended.
My score: 8.3/10 (Original Score: 7.5/10)
IMDb Score: 7.2/10 (based on 126,803 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: 72/100: (Based on 41 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 82/100 (based on 257 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 78/100 (based on 96,188 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Mrs. Kaznyk: I'm so worried for that boy.
Mr. Kaznyk: Joe's gonna be okay.
Mrs. Kaznyk: She was everything to him.
Mr. Kaznyk: Jack's gonna step up. He's a good man.
Mrs. Kaznyk: But he's never had to be a father before. I don't think he understands Joe.
Alice Dainard: So how am I supposed to be a zombie?
Joe Lamb: Oh, um... Pretty much be a lifeless ghoul, with no soul. Dead eyes. Scary. Did you ever have Mrs. Mullin?
Alice Dainard: For English? Yeah.
Joe Lamb: Yeah. Kind of like her, but hungry for human flesh. Like she wants to turn somebody into a zombie. 'Cause that's kind of what zombies do.
[Alice practices being a zombie. Soft music playing]
Joe Lamb: Oh, my God, yeah. That's really good.
[Alice slowly approaches Joe. She reaches out for him, clasps his neck and gives him a kiss on the neck and laughs]
Joe Lamb: Not bad.
Alice Dainard: Really?
Joe Lamb: Really.
[Joe's eyes widen unsure what to think of what just happened. Charles notices the kiss... ]
Cary: He's too stoned!
Martin: Oh, drugs are so bad!
Louis Dainard: Where're we going?
Jackson Lamb: We're going to find our kids.
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site: http://www.super8-movie.com/